Why It's Time to Make a Trip to Willows Inn

A pilgrimage to Lummi Island reawakens a passion for local foods
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When you feel compelled to leave the city and immerse yourself in nature, when you seek to sit in quiet amazement at the wondrous foraged and farm-raised foods our Pacific Coast region provides, and to be waited on with warmth by a knowing staff but without the formality of a fussy setting, it’s time to make a trip to the Willows Inn.

A six-minute ferry ride across a calm bay outside of Bellingham takes you to pastoral Lummi Island and the Willows Inn (2579 W Shore Drive; 360.758.2620; willows-inn.com; $230–$600), where comfortably updated guest rooms beckon upstairs; off-site, waterfront (or nearly so) accommodations offer more luxury. The reason to come all this way, of course, is for chef Blaine Wetzel’s nightly prix fixe menu ($175; wine pairing, $90). His time at the world-renowned Copenhagen restaurant Noma informs his point of view: only the best, and only what’s growing in this exact place, right at this moment. And so edibles such as wild lettuces and foraged berry flowers, and salmon or spot prawns caught that morning and singing with sweet flavor, perhaps alongside their own roe, arrive course after course, as if written as a poem.

Related: The Best Getaways for Food and Wine Lovers



All of the treasures of our lush forests, our ocean and our farms—the sweetest clams, perhaps wrapped in a foraged and dried seaweed wrapper; the lamb raised just down the way on a grassy hill, brushed with the sweet grasses it once grazed upon—this is supper and yet so much more. The owners of lavish yachts and young foodies who’ve traveled here from around the world sigh in unison as the sun sets over a steely ocean horizon and the magical menu unfolds.

Road Trip: Concrete and East Skagit County

Road Trip: Concrete and East Skagit County

Enjoy a scenic drive and stay out in eagle country
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View the eagles during the Skagit Eagle Festival; snap a pic and enter it by January 15 in the Skagit River Bald Eagle Center’s 20th anniversary photo contest. Go win it!

WHERE: Concrete and east Skagit County.

WHY: Eagles are flocking to their spectacular winter getaway—why not join them? The Skagit Eagle Festival (1/1–1/31; concrete-wa.com) happens every January weekend, and your car makes a perfect blind for snapping pictures without scaring off these magnificent birds. Celebrate along the Skagit River with arts and crafts, wine tasting, photography tours and river rafting for eagle spotters.

NIGHT OWLS: Check out the Concrete Theatre, built in 1923 (45920 Main St.; 360.941.0403; concrete-theatre.com), updated for films, live music and events during the festival. early birds: Stop by 5b’s Bakery (45597 Main St.; 360.853.8700; 5bsbakery.com) for quality gluten-free baked goods and more for breakfast or lunch. For dinner, there’s Annie’s Pizza Station (44568 State Route 20; 360.853.7227; anniespizzastation.net), whose handcrafted cuisine would be a hit even in a town bigger than Concrete, population 753.

RULE THE ROOST: Spend the night in one of Ovenell’s Heritage Inn log cabins, located on a historic ranch across the river (46276 Concrete Sauk Valley Road; 360.853.8494; ovenells-inn.com). Pick up a steak or two—the cows are raised right there on the ranch—and throw them on the provided barbecue. Had enough of eagles? Elk, deer and coyotes are known to roam the ranch on a daily basis.